Spring in the Upper Midwest (Ain’t it pretty?)

Snow Mold

Well it’s finally spring.  The snow is melting!  It’s been above freezing for more than 24 hours!  My lawn is covered in snow mold!  What is snow mold you may be asking?  Well I’ll tell you!  It’s that gross white stuff that looks like snow (The big white piles actually ARE snow, I’m talking about the stringy white stuff that is more cottony looking).  The gray snow mold is a fungus that grows under the snow during the winter.  It makes itself known in the spring when your lawn is suddenly a gray fuzzy mess.  According to this site it is worse in winters with an early deep snowfall, much like we had this year.  On the plus side, aside from being rather ugly I’ve never really had any damage from it.  From the sound of the U of M link I posted I’m getting off lucky.  Who knows, this could be my unlucky year and I’ll have some dead spots.  Oh well, could be worse!

Crested Sedum

On the plus side my hardy cactus and succulent garden did not sustain much in the way of damage (so far).  All but two of them survived the winter, now I just need them to survive the spring.  The two I lost are really no surprise.  One was a Mammilaria that was briefly hardy to -20 (I don’t think their definition of briefly is a solid week with nights that cold and months below freezing) and the other was an unidentified Echinocereus that I thought was triglochidiatus but it probably wasn’t since I had 4 of those over winter and just the one die.  So I’m really not shaken up.  This lovely little plant pictured is a crested Sedum.  I can’t remember the genus so I’ll have to figure that out later.  It was labeled as a zone 5 plant but it appears to have taken my zone 4 winter with flying colors.

Orostachys spinosa

This little guy is called Orostachys spinosa.  It’s insanely cold hardy (down to -40º!) and pretty cool if you ask me.  In the winter it shrivels into these little round balls of silvery brown but as soon as it warms up they’ll open up into bright green rosets of rubbery leaves.  When they bloom (which doesn’t happen too terribly often it seems) the bloom spike emerges and it looks like a witches hat.  I think they’re totally under appreciated.  I can’t wait for this guy to start growing and form a nice clump!  I’m pretty sure within 2 years my entire cactus garden is going to be overrun with all my random Crassulaceous plants (Orostacys, Sempervivum, and Sedums).  I’m currently up to 6 species/varieties of Sempervivums, just the one Orostacys and about 5 Sedums.  My desert garden is going to be a bit on the lush side.  I should probably stop finding new plants for it, eh?

Tricolor Yucca

My Yucca actually survived the winter!  It didn’t get eaten by rabbits(which is more than I can say for my blueberries and baby lilac plant that I grew from a cutting of my Grandma’s hedge)!  I’m super excited for this because I’ve been trying for 3 years now to have a yucca do well.  I was so excited I nearly fell off the retaining wall (the garden sits on top of an 8 foot tall retaining wall) when I saw this.

Dead Echinocereus

This is what a dead Echinocereus looks like.  I knew instantly when I saw how large it was that it didn’t survive the winter.  They’re supposed to shrivel up and almost completely dehydrate, otherwise the water in the cells freezes and the ice crystals will puncture the cells and reduce your plant to a jelly like mass.  This one is still frozen solid but you can tell its going to be jelly when it thaws.  I’m hoping maybe one of the pups will have survived but I’m not holding my breath.

Echinocereus triglochidiatus

This is more of what it should look like this time of year.  In a month or so they’ll swell and look quite a bit more festively plump.  These guys are in their 4th or 5th year now (I’m getting to the point where I have no idea how old anything is anymore!  I should write stuff down more often).  And now I’ll just post a couple more cacti shots and quit rambling for a few minutes.

Two Opuntia

Zone 5 pink flowered opuntia. It survived! So far...

Opuntia fragilis 'Graybeard'

And in a final exciting note….my Helleborus has started its new growth already!  It has a flowered bud!  My lenten rose might actually have blooms during lent! You have no idea how stoked I am about this.

Helleborus bud

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